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Top Pence aide told lawmakers Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' in closed-door testimony

Top Pence aide told lawmakers Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' in closed-door testimony
© Aaron Schwartz

A staffer for Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE told lawmakers in a closed-door testimony that the July 25 call between President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that helped spark an ongoing impeachment inquiry was “unusual and inappropriate.”

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Career foreign service officer and Pence staffer Jennifer Williams, who testified that she has firsthand knowledge of the discussion as one of a few officials who were on the call, made the remarks during a closed-door deposition, according to a transcript of her testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.

During the testimony, Williams said that she found a few references made in Trump’s call with Zelensky – during which Trump asked the Ukraine leader to look into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE and his son’s dealings in Ukraine as well as the hack of the Democratic National Committee server in 2016 – to be “unusual, and more of a political nature.”

When asked by Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting MORE (D-Calif.) during her testimony about her feelings on the concerns raised by Trump during the call, Williams said that she thinks she “found them to be more political in nature and, in the context of a foreign policy – or an engagement with a foreign leader, to be more political than diplomatic.”

“Some people would say that diplomacy itself is inherently political, and so everything diplomatic is , by definition, political also, but you had a strong reaction to that. Can you spell out what you saw improperly political about those mentions?” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) asked Williams at one point during her testimony.

“I believe I found the specific mentions to be – to be more specific to the president in nature, to his personal agenda ...as opposed to a broad foreign policy objective of the United States.” Williams responded.

"I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold," she also said of the call in her deposition.

Williams is slated to testify at a public hearing next Tuesday as part of the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry in Trump.

According to Politico, Williams provided her deposition to lawmakers against orders from the White House.